My first Robots in Disguise fic. A short one that I'll post up in 2 parts. This one spotlights my fave bot from the series: the dark counterpart to Optimus Prime, Scourge (or as I prefer to think of him, Black Convoy!).
This short story is set some time after the end of the RID series. Galvatron, his Predacons (except for Sky-Byte) and the Decepticons have been captured and incarcerated by the Autobots. Optimus Prime pays a visit to the prison to speak one more time with one of his old enemies.
Autobot No More
The head warden of the Autobot Asteroid Prison Colony-1, Safeguard, looked up into the stars of space. He watched as a small, blue Autobot transport ship lowered itself down onto the landing platform that he was standing by. Fine clouds of asteroid dust were swept up around the ship as it touched down onto the surface of the circular landing platform. Safeguard began making his way toward the ship's entrance. He was expecting a special visitor.
The transport ship's double doors promptly opened and a boarding ramp was lowered automatically toward the ground. A prestigious red and blue figure emerged at the open doorway and alighted down the ramp. He gazed with sincere gold optics at Safeguard as he approached him. Safeguard's rigid hand immediately rose to his head in a salute.
"Optimus Prime, sir. Welcome to Asteroid Prison Colony-1," Safeguard formally greeted.
Though Safeguard had no visual evidence of the former Earth-posted Autobot leader's expression hidden behind his face mask, he could feel the Prime's gracious manner of ease in his body posture and voice.
"Don't trouble yourself with formalities on my behalf, Safeguard, but thank you all the same." Optimus Prime acknowledged the Autobot prison warden with a subtle nod. "I won't waste time here. Please take me straight to the purpose of my visit."
"Very well, Prime sir," Safeguard responded dutifully, "If you would please follow me."
Optimus Prime quietly followed Safeguard away from the landing platform toward an entranceway of the prison facility nearby. As they walked together, Safeguard glanced over to Optimus Prime. The Autobot leader, looking distantly ahead, seemed to be mulling over something in his processor.
"Optimus Prime, sir, if I might be so bold as to voice my opinion," Safeguard hesitantly began.
Without turning to him, Optimus Prime simply nodded.
"Go ahead, Safeguard."
Safeguard quietly inhaled and shook his head.
"This prisoner is beyond saving..."
Optimus Prime's distant look did not falter.
"All the same, I must try...one last time."
Optimus Prime was led down dimly lit corridors, past prison cells with growling, sulking, whining, glaring and recharging imprisoned bots held in restraining cuffs and behind energy bars. As he passed by a particular cell, Optimus Prime recognised the slouching forms of the Predacon trio that had served his now also imprisoned foe from Earth, Megatron, or rather Galvatron: Dark Scream, Gas Skunk and Slapper. They looked up as Optimus Prime walked by them.
"Don't suppose you're coming to visit us, eh Prime?" taunted Slapper from behind the energy bars of his shared prison cell with the other two Predacons.
"Pfft. More likely he's here for that over-glorified, treacherous Decpeticon that made our and Sky-Byte's lives difficult on Earth," Dark Scream huffed.
Safeguard looked to Optimus to say something.
"Even though they served under the dangerous Predacon leader, Megatron, these three weren't considered a high threat level, so we imprisoned them here on the higher levels of the facility with other low threat level-rated prisoners."
Optimus Prime said nothing for a moment, continuing to walk slowly by the Predacon trio with only a passing glance at them.
"I see," he responded simply to Safeguard.
The two Autobots moved on silently past the cell of the Predacon trio. Optimus heard Gas Skunk shout something to him as he moved out of the Predacons' view.
"Hey, Optimus, wait! You heard anything about Sky-Byte yet?"
Sky-Byte. He had disappeared after Optimus and his Autobots had captured Galvatron and his forces on Earth. They had never bothered to search too hard for him. Partly because he had safely returned their human ally, Dr. Onishi, to Koji, and partly because they had needed to leave Earth quickly to transfer Galvatron and his captured troops to a proper holding facility. Optimus Prime said none of this to the imprisoned Predacons though.
Leaving the passageway on which the Predacon trio were being kept, Safeguard approached the doors of an elevator. Optimus Prime stopped behind him as he pressed his hand onto a wall-mounted scanning pad. A line of green light passed underneath Safeguard's palm. A computerised female voice rang out.
"Signature recognised. Access granted. Welcome, head warden, Safeguard."
Safeguard glanced back at Optimus behind him.
"We need to head down to the maximum security underground levels," he explained, "That's where he's been held. Unlike the Predacon gruesome threesome back there, this one was deemed amongst the most dangerous prisoners this prison colony holds. He and Galvatron are held in quarantined cells of their own. Full restraints for both."
Optimus kept his gaze firmly ahead at the opening elevator doors.
"I'm not surprised," he dryly commented, stepping into the elevator with Safeguard.
The elevator doors shut and the two Autobots were taken down.
"Did you come here on the High Council's orders, Optimus sir?" Safeguard queried as the elevator moved down several levels.
"More like on their permission," Optimus answered truthfully, "I urged them to allow me to speak with him one more time before...the final stage of his sentence."
Safeguard raised a quizzical optic ridge at the tall and noble Autobot leader.
"Why? You fought him on Earth. Surely you must know how far gone he is. He's as bad as they come now. I've seen what he's like. He's not going to accept your help. And even if he did, he can't be trusted, not anymore. His corruption runs too deep."
Optimus Prime's gold gaze fell to the floor of the elevator.
"We can't give up on our old comrades. We've brought back reprogrammed Autobots before. If I could just reach through to the part of his spark that is Autobot..."
Safeguard shook his head.
"Forgive me, sir, but I believe your efforts will be in vain."
Optimus Prime fell silent once more.
Optimus Prime steeled himself at a set of reinforced metal doors. Beside him, Safeguard placed his hand upon another scanning pad in the wall.
"Requesting access to prisoner D-012. Please confirm your identity," a computerised female voice rang out.
"Access granted, Safeguard."
The thick, reinforced metal doors parted to reveal a wide, brightly-lit room. It was empty of anything but a single dark figure in the centre of it. The dark prisoner was held suspended above the silver floor by restraining lock devices extending from the ceiling and the floor. The lock devices swallowed the prisoner's lower arms and legs, pulling them apart in separate directions and effectively immobilising him. There was little chance of escape from this kind of holding cell.
Optimus Prime entered the eerily soundless holding cell, approaching the familiar dark body of the prisoner at the heart of it, a body that was black and grey with teal lines and resembled his own with the square plates of its chest. Optimus looked up and saw that the prisoner's head was encompassed in a metal casing.
"I'll remove that so you can speak with him," Safeguard informed.
Optimus looked down at Safeguard with slight disapproval.
"Why was the head case necessary?"
Safeguard nervously returned Optimus Prime's questioning look.
"His...appearance unnerved many of the guards here..."
Optimus narrowed his gaze.
"You mean his resemblance to me."
"Yes," Safeguard mumbled, "Some of the guards commented how it was like looking at a dark version of you. They were unsettled whilst watching him. The way he stared, his red optics..."
Optimus looked back at his dark lookalike and sighed.
"Take it off," he requested.
Safeguard looked up.
"Remove head case."
A remote signal caused metal straps around the head casing to unlock. The case cracked open at the sides. A mechanical arm from a wall lowered down to the prisoner's head and plucked the head case off. Set within a masked face framed by a black and teal-lined helmet, a pair of blood red optics flared online, glaring malevolently down at Optimus Prime.
They were the optics of the Decepticon commander, Scourge.